Monday, November 28, 2016

3 Tips for Meatless Monday

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyWaytoVeg #CollectiveBias

At my house, we aim to have "Meatless Monday" lunches or dinners on a weekly basis, at a minimum. Incorporating meatless meals into our routine is important to me because it benefits the environment and promotes sustainable living. Going "meatless" isn't just for vegetarians! Today I'm sharing three tips for incorporating Meatless Monday meals into your weekly routine, including new flavors of MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bowls.

1: Plan your Meatless Monday Meals

A little bit of planning goes a long way. Search your favorite cookbooks, food blogs and Pinterest {linking to my Delicious Vegetarian Recipes board} for inspiration. Every weekend I write up a meal list with my grocery list before we shop at the store on Sunday mornings. Since we only cook for two adults, I try to choose meals that will last and result in tasty leftovers.

2: Experiment with New Veggies

For additional motivation to try Meatless Mondays, experiment with a new vegetable every week by incorporating it into your meatless meal. For us, winter squash makes a great hearty base for a meatless meal. Acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash are my favorites. This is the perfect time of year to try every kind of squash! A few examples of other winter seasonable vegetables in Illinois include brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and cabbage. Check out this seasonal food guide for more info on your state.

3: Stock Up on Easy Meatless Options

For hectic days and meals where you need a fast lunch or dinner, keep delicious frozen options in your home such as MorningStar Farms® Veggie Bowls.

MorningStar Farms has five new varieties of Veggie Bowls available, including Chik'n Pot Pie, Chik'n Tikka Masala, Italian Sausage Bake, Japanese Soba Noodles, and Moroccan Medley. I found these new flavors at my local Jewel store, in the frozen foods section {aisle 10}.

I tried the Chik'n Pot Pie Veggie Bowl for lunch on a busy day last week. This Veggie Bowl includes Veggie Chik'n Strips, peas, carrots, corn, red potatoes, and a biscuit on top.

This vegetarian Chik'n Pot Pie Veggie Bowl made a very easy lunch for me, because it was ready in less than 5 minutes in the microwave. The Chik'n Strips in this Veggie Bowl are 100% vegan.

I have enjoyed MorningStar Farms products for years, so I'm excited to have a new option for vegetarian dining through these Veggie Bowls. Veggie Bowls are great for families, busy working people, and anyone wanting to stick to a healthier lifestyle.

For more veggie inspiration, check out the MorningStar Farms My Way to Veg page. Find MorningStar Farms on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

Do you eat vegetarian meals? How do you incorporate Meatless Mondays into your weekly meal routine?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Candy Cane Mascarpone Dip

This holiday recipe for Candy Cane Mascarpone Dip is a delicious and easy dessert with only a few ingredients - my favorite mascarpone cheese, crushed candy canes, and peppermint extract.

#GetReliefFromtheFeast this season by checking out Walmart's website and their delicious holiday recipe ideas!

Make this Candy Cane Mascarpone Dip for a family party or gathering of friends this season. It would be a great easy dessert for your Thanksgiving meal this week. The best part is this dessert only takes 5 minutes to whip up in a food processor.

The star ingredients of this recipe are mascarpone cheese and crushed mini candy canes. Mascarpone cheese is Italian cream cheese. It's very smooth and slightly sweet, with a tangy flavor at the end. I have really learned to appreciate mascarpone cheese after marrying into a northern Italian family - for example, my sister-in-law often posts delicious Italian-inspired recipes on her food blog.

I love desserts that include dairy like mascarpone cheese, especially around the holidays, but I have been lactose intolerant since I was a baby so I need a little something to help me enjoy my favorite dishes. I always have Lactaid in my cupboard for times like this. I recently stocked up on Lactaid at Walmart.

Make sure to check out Walmart's website for more options to help you enjoy your favorite recipes this season. You can find LACTAID® supplements for dishes you can't control at holiday gatherings this season, LACTAID® dairy products for cooking, IMODIUM® for fast relief from digestive symptoms, and PEPCID® for heartburn. Make sure to stock up on these helpful essentials during your next visit to Walmart.

I served this dip to my family with mini vanilla wafer cookies, but I think it would be delicious with chocolate cookies or graham crackers. 

Peppermint is one of my favorite flavors around the holidays, especially in the form of a candy cane.

How cute is this mini cookie topped with dessert dip?

I suggest crushing an extra mini candy cane to use as a topping on your Candy Cane Mascarpone Dip. It gives this dessert dip a satisfying crunch!

Candy Cane Mascarpone Dip
Yields: 6+ servings
1 container of mascarpone cheese
1 splash of peppermint extract 
11 mini candy canes, blended in a food processor 

*In a food processor, pulverize 10 candy canes until they turn into a powder.
*Add the mascarpone cheese and peppermint extract.  Mix until well blended.
*Top the dip with 1 chopped mini candy cane as a garnish. Serve with your favorite cookies.

What's your favorite holiday dessert recipe? How do you deal with digestive trouble at this time of year? Remember to visit Walmart's website for relief options this season!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Foodies

This Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies is a great way to get inspired for Christmas and other holiday shopping, with a range of gift ideas $100 and under. This "foodie" list is perfect for your favorite friend or family member that loves cooking or baking in the kitchen.

This post contains affiliate links.

I'm getting my holiday shopping done early this year since our baby will be making his appearance next month. As I've been researching gifts for family members, I thought it would be fun to create a "foodie" gift guide from items that I have and love using in my own kitchen. I can't believe I've never posted a holiday gift guide on this blog before!

Below is a list of ten gift ideas, ranging in price from $8 to $100.

Brownie Bar Pan {$8}

I received this pan as a gift from my sister-in-law a few years ago. This brownie pan is a great way to make sure your brownies all have crispy edges {my favorite part}!

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Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract {$12}

I have a mini collection of vanilla extracts for baking, and this Madagascar Bourbon flavored extract is one of my favorites. I received this as a gift for Christmas last year, and it's still at the front of my spice shelf.

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Silpat Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat {$19}

I have a few different non-stick baking mats, but this Silpat version is the best one in my opinion. It cleans easily and you never have to worry about cookies or other food items sticking to your baking sheets. The siplat comes in a variety of sizes/prices - I have the half sheet version.

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The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook {$21}

Deb's cookbook from 2012 is still one of my favorites. Her smitten kitchen food blog is one of the first I started reading. She also has a great round-up of Thanksgiving recipes on her blog that I'll be looking over in the coming week!

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The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2017 {$27}

America's Test Kitchen has every kitchen and cooking tip you can think of, and their complete "TV Show Cookbook" summarizes them all. The latest version of their cookbook was released in early October, covering shows from 2001 - 2017. I have the 2015 version and it's awesome - full of hundreds of wonderful recipes.

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Le Creuset Stoneware 1-Quart Utensil Crock {$30}

I received two Le Creuset crocks as a wedding shower gift a few years ago, and they are still going strong in my kitchen. The one quart size is perfect for holding kitchen utensils while not taking up too much counter space. This comes in a variety of colors - "Caribbean" is pictured here.

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Amazon Echo Dot {$50}

K and I actually have the full-sized Amazon Echo, but this Echo Dot would also be a fun gift for someone that loves spending time in the kitchen. We use our Amazon Echo every day to listen to the radio, play podcasts, and our favorite music. It's featured on our counter next to the spice rack and I can't imagine a better place for it.

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Emile Henry Baking Dish {$80}

My hands down favorite item in our kitchen is this "BBQ fish pan" baking dish from Emile Henry. We purchased this using wedding gift cards a few years ago on a recommendation. We use it mostly for roasting vegetables and squash, but it's main use is supposed to be for seafood. See the grill marks? Nothing sticks to this baking dish, food heats evenly, and it cleans very easily.

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Capresso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder {$87}

For your favorite coffee lover, I highly recommend this conical burr grinder. I received this as a Christmas gift last year from my brother and use it almost every day. There is a range of options for grinding beans, from extra fine to course. I used to have a $10 coffee grinder - I promise you this upgraded version is worth every penny.

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Le Creuset Mini Cocottes with Cookbook {$100}

These Mini Cocottes from Le Creuset are so cute and perfect for a baker or cook in your life. I received these as a Christmas gift last year and I love them! Each cocotte holds 8 ounces and is made of Le Creuset stoneware. This set of four also comes with a cookbook including 25 recipe ideas.
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Monday, November 7, 2016

Weekend + Quinoa & Butternut Squash Salad

This vegetarian recipe for Quinoa & Butternut Squash Salad includes a few of my favorite fall-inspired ingredients: roasted butternut squash, brussels sprouts, and cranberries. This dish is perfect for a "meatless Monday" dinner or upcoming holiday {Thanksgiving!} side dish.

Good morning! How was your weekend? Ours was packed with fun {and productive} activities. K and I started out the weekend by early voting which feels great. I'm sure I'm not the only one who can't wait for this election cycle to be over. On Saturday, my sweet friends hosted a baby shower brunch for me which was wonderful. I think we are almost ready for his arrival {as soon as we get the car seat installed}! The weather was also gorgeous and there are still many beautiful trees in the neighborhood.

K and I went to dinner and a play downtown with visiting friends on Saturday night, then were back downtown at the hospital first thing on Sunday morning for our baby/child CPR class. It was such a gorgeous day yesterday that we decided to take a leisurely afternoon and went on a 2 hour walk after the class. We ended up at Annette's Italian Ice in Lincoln Park for a sweet treat before heading home. I'm typically sensitive to dairy, but during pregnancy the symptoms of lactose intolerance often subside or go away. This has definitely happened for me so I'm embracing it over the next few weeks! Annette's is delicious - I had a Peppermint Bark Milkshake. It's never too early for holiday flavors.

I also made this delicious vegetarian recipe that can be enjoyed in a few different ways this fall and over the holiday season - Quinoa & Butternut Squash Salad.

This is a new take on two old recipes: my Winter Quinoa Salad and Roasted Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad. This dish includes a few of my favorite fall ingredients - roasted butternut squash, roasted brussels sprouts, and dried cranberries.

A warm fall salad is perfect for a vegetarian main dish or a side dish for an upcoming holiday gathering. How is Thanksgiving only a few weeks away?!

K and I enjoyed the leftovers from this recipe on Sunday night, served over massaged kale and topped with a bit of goat cheese.

Quinoa & Butternut Squash Salad
Yields: 4 servings as a main dish; 6+ as a side dish

1 cup white quinoa
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tablespoons avocado oil
2 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Maple Dijon Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons olive oil + 2 teaspoons
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
4 teaspoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

*Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
*Peel, cut and cube half of a butternut squash. Toss with 1 Tablespoon avocado oil {or other oil of your choice}, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Roast the butternut squash for 25 minutes.
*Quarter the brussels sprouts. Toss with 1 Tablespoon avocado oil {or other oil of your choice}, 2 Tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for an additional 10 minutes.
*While the butternut squash and brussesls sprouts are roasting, cook your quinoa according to package directions. I used half water and half vegetable stock {1 cup of each} and 1 cup of rinsed white quinoa. Bring your quinoa and liquids to a boil and simmer for ~10 minutes.
*Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together {see recipe above}.
*Add all ingredients together: roasted butternut squash, brussesls sprouts, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries, cooked quinoa, and vinaigrette dressing.

What's your favorite holiday salad recipe?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

15 Treadmill Workouts for Cold Weather

If you're planning to stay active during the chilly winter months this season, save this list of 15 Treadmill Workouts for Cold Weather.

Chicago Jogger started as a running blog back in summer 2013, with a few recipes thrown in for good measure. It has now turned into a food blog with occasional running posts. As I mentioned a few months ago, I stopped running in July since K and I are expecting our first baby this year. {Soon.... before Christmas!} I was convinced I would be someone that ran throughout pregnancy, but it didn't work out that way. I have stayed active by walking as much as possible, with motivation from my Fitbit. For the most part I'm okay with this change and have embraced this new season of life - but I am very excited to start running again once the time is right. The jogging stroller is already set up for you for next spring, Baby. :)

Since running has been on my mind lately, I thought it would be a good time to re-share a handful of my favorite treadmill workouts that have been posted on this blog. Even though above-average temperatures are expected in November, winter will arrive eventually and the Farmers' Almanac forecast is for a "frigid" season. It's good to be prepared!

Below are links to 15 of my treadmill workouts.

Half Mile Interval Treadmill Run

40 Minute Interval Workout

5 Step Treadmill Workout

45 Minute Treadmill Run

6 Mile Treadmill Run

Increasing Speed Treadmill Workout

5-4-3 Treadmill Workout

Triangle 4-to-1 Treadmill Run

2-3-4-5 Treadmill Run

7 Step Treadmill Run

6-5-4-3 Treadmill Workout

5 Mile Treadmill Run

45 Minute Treadmill Run

Nike+ Run Club Speed Run Workout

Speedy Treadmill Workout

Do you run on the treadmill?

What's your favorite way to stay fit during winter months?